When Michael Sheen (Masters of Sex) first showed up to meet with The Good Fight showrunners Robert and Michelle King, the actor had “quite a lot of beard and quite a lot of hair.” He wasn’t sure how the Kings would want his character — an outrageous, Roy Cohn-like lawyer named Roland Blum — to look, so he showed up un-manscaped. “I assumed that they would want me to be a clean-cut attorney kind of thing,” he says. “Then once I went to have some costume fittings and I had these amazing suits that Daniel, the costume designer, came up with, we started to come up with this idea of his being dandy-esque. And I thought, what could work really well is if he looks incredibly smart and dapper all the time, but he himself is just wild and all over the place.”
The chaos Roland brings to The Good Fight in season 3 goes way beyond his unkempt hair. In addition to corrupting third-year associate Maia Rindell (Rose Leslie), Roland and his truth-averse way of practicing law will send Diane Lockhart (Christine Baranski) into attack mode. Sheen gave EW some more details about shaking up Reddick, Boseman & Lockhart.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What did you know about the show beforehand?
MICHAEL SHEEN: I’d seen some of it because I had a few friends who said that it was their favorite show. They were all very switched on politically, they’re all funny, smart people as well. I thought, if very smart, funny, politically turned on women [say] it’s their favorite show, then there’s got to be something worthwhile about it.
Can you preview Roland’s first meeting with Diane?
She comes into her office at night. There’s a storm going on outside, and finds this strange man sitting at her desk. She gives nothing away, and he does what he does, which is provoke and poke and test and explore.
Some people know, my ex-partner Sarah Silverman made a joke one day about me naming a certain part of my anatomy “The Great Christine Baranski” — which is not true. It was just something that Sarah made up, but it took off, so everyone thought that it would be hilarious to ask Christine about that all the time, poor thing. There’s a little cheeky nod to that in the first meeting as well.
The Kings said Marissa (Sarah Steele) almost becomes Roland’s bodyguard this season. What have those scenes been like to film?
I’ve loved doing these scenes with Sarah. What I love about this way of telling stories is that it can grow and develop based on what happens between two actors. The Kings might watch a scene that we’ve done, and they get ideas based on what comes out of that scene. We found the very first scene that we did together, there was just a quality to it that was quite surprising in some ways, so the Kings ran with that… She keeps a watch over me because Roland is so unpredictable and dangerous in certain ways. He can’t help himself, the way that he is with people, but he finds that she gives back as good as she gets, and he loves it.
Roland has an amazing wardrobe — did you want to keep any of his clothes?
I would love to keep them all. I’ve never had a character who only wears an outfit once and then never wears it again. His clothes are gorgeous and over the top, but he himself is like an animal in the forest — he doesn’t want anything on his body. There’s a moment where Maia comes back to his apartment, and the first thing he does is take his pants off. I love the idea that when he gets home he just walks around naked all the time. He’s an animal.
If they wanted you to come back for another season, would you be up for it?
The difficult thing with this character is how do you keep him around? The whole point of him is he doesn’t conform to anything, so it does become complicated to know how he could just keep going. But if there was a way to make that work without diluting him then I would definitely be on for exploring that.
The Good Fight season 3 premieres Thursday, March 14 on CBS All Access.